Pope Francis Just Declared 2 Portuguese Children Saints

The statuettes of brother and sister Francisco and Jacinta, whom Pope Francis will canonize, is displayed in Fatima, Portugal, on May 12, 2017.

In an emotional outdoor service on a packed, 400,000-capacity esplanade at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, Catholic worshippers from all over the world sang and looked on, some crying, while many more watched the canonisation on giant screens from adjacent streets.

Francis proclaimed Francisco and Jacinta Marto saints at the start of Mass on Saturday marking the centenary of their visions.

"It is unbelievable, it is like an answer to prayer because I felt that always they would be canonised", said Agnes Walsh from Killarney, Ireland.

At the beginning of the Mass the Pope said "we declare and define Blessed Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto be saints and we enrol them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church".

The two, along with their older cousin Lúcia de Jesus dos Santos, are believed to have seen the Madonna in the same town 100 years ago.

She is said to have appeared six times between May and October 1917 to the three impoverished, barely-literate shepherds, and apparently shared three prophesies with the trio at a period marked by the ravages of World War I. He is hoping the message of peace that they reported 100 years ago, when Europe was in the throes of World War I, will resonate with the Catholic faithful today.

Pope Francis stood for several minutes in front of the tombs with his eyes closed and head bowed.

Pope John Paul II disclosed it in 2000, saying it prophesied his 1981 assassination attempt.

Despite bribes, threats of death by burning oil, and threatening to lock them in a cell with criminals, the children never recanted their story.

The reported apparitions have been officially recognised by the Catholic church since 1930.

The three young visionaries, who were all under ten years old at the time of that first encounter with "the handsome Lady" - as Jacinta called her, are buried here side by side in the basilica. "He is closer to us, the people", she said. The third visionary, Lucia Dos Santos, became a nun and died in 2005 at the age of 97.

Lucia died in 2005 and is now on the track for beatification, the first step towards becoming a saint.

They were canonized Saturday after the Church officially attributed two miracles to the pair - a necessary step to become a saint.

This final secret talked about a great persecution of priests and religious and referred to a "bishop dressed in white" taken to be the Pope, who comes under fire from arrows and bullets and dies.

May 13, 2017 4:20 p.m.:Pope expresses personal doubts about Medjugorje during plane press conference while returning from Fatima.

Fatima has been long associated with St. Paul John Paul II who credited the Madonna for saving his life in 1981 when he was shot on Fatima's feast day, May 13, in St. Peter's Square. He donated it to the sanctuary, where it is now embedded in the crown of the statue that Francis prayed before on Friday night.

The impending canonization of the children had led to speculation that a fourth "secret" remained, but the Vatican says there are no more secrets related to the Fatima revelations.

  • Marlene Weaver